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Long-Term Care Nurse

Some patients cannot be rehabilitated after a stint in the hospital. Instead, these patients may need nursing assistance for the rest of their lives due to a permanent disability, chronic condition or old age. Long-term care nurses work with patients who need ongoing assistance and medical attention to accomplish routine and daily activities like bathing, eating, dressing and using the bathroom. They monitor the patient’s condition to ensure that the patient is comfortable and healthy, perform general bedside duties and may also remind and aid patients in taking their medication. Most long-term care nurses work in assisted living or nursing homes.

Nurses specializing in long-term care must be registered nurses (RNs) due to the complexity of dealing with chronic and elderly conditions. RNs must complete either a diploma program from a nursing school, an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. To specialize in long-term care, students should take courses in gerontology, physical therapy, and psychology. After graduating from the nursing program, prospective nurses take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Most states require nurses working in nursing facilities or assisted living homes to obtain licensure or certification, the mandates for which vary from state to state.

Long-term care nurses primarily work with elderly patients, and with a large portion of the population celebrating birthdays past middle age, the employment prospects for long-term care nurses will be positive. An estimated nine million people over the age of 65 will need long-term care in 2010, according to the Medicare website. That number will jump to a whopping 12 million people by 2020 as more people reach their elderly years. In addition to the reward of improving the quality of life to those who need help, long-term care nurses earn a satisfying salary. Most long-term care nurses can expect to earn about $75,331 annually, according to PayScale, a company that specializes in compensation data.